Rana pipiens embryos at the end of the blastula stage were dissociated and the cell suspension was separated into presumptive ectoderm, mesoderm, light endoderm, and heavy endoderm cells by a discontinuous density gradient centrifugation technique. The isolated germ layers were analyzed for total lipid, lipid phosphorus, plasmalogen, RNA, and DNA. Per gram dry weight, DNA showed a threefold decrease from ectoderm to heavy endoderm. On the same basis, the RNA content of the mesoderm was 34 per cent higher than that of ectoderm, and 320 and 570 per cent higher than that of light and heavy endoderm, respectively. In addition to the RNA and DNA gradients, there were at least two superimposed lipid gradients: a neutral lipid gradient decreasing from ectoderm to endoderm, and a total phospholipid gradient increasing from ectoderm to endoderm. In contrast to total phospholipid, a specific phospholipid class, ethanolamine plasmalogen, decreased from ectoderm to endoderm. The total lipid content per gram dry weight was the same in all the germ layers. Total phospholipids were analyzed quantitatively by thin layer chromatography. Phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, sphingomyelin, and inositol phospholipid constituted 34, 13, 12, and 34 per cent, respectively, of the total lipid phosphorus. The phospholipid composition was different in each germ layer. The possible role of specific lipids in embryonic induction and differentiation is discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.